Tourism Naturally Conference

Aktivität: Teilnahme an oder Organisation einer VeranstaltungKonferenzorganisation und -teilnahmeForschung


Perceived difficulty of recreational mountainbike trails

Mountain biking is a popular activity in outdoor recreation and mountain tourism. Trail difficulty rating systems help visitors to match their own skill level with technical difficulties of recreational trails. Managing risks, preventing accidents and improving the outdoor experience for visitors are central aims of difficulty rating systems. But there is little known about how the perception of trail difficulty is affected by factors like age, sex, personal skill level or mountain biking experience. This study examines differences in the perception of trail difficulties between different groups as well as differences between self-assessed skill-level and actual skill-level. With a standardized web based questionnaire subjects’ (n = 2040) assessed trail difficulty of 30 mountainbike trails (presented by pictures) varying in technical difficulty. Personal skill level was determined by the question whether subjects would manage to ride the trail or not. Findings show that the perceived difficulty of a trail increases when the skill level of subjects decreases (p<0,01). There were no other factors identified affecting the perceived difficulty. Further-more, subjects self‐assessed riding skills differ from their actual riding skills (p<0,01). While beginners underestimate their skill-level (p<0,01), experienced mountain bikers overestimate their skill-level when mountain bike experience increases (p<0,01). In addition, moderate correlations could be determined between mountain biking experience and self‐assessed riding performance (r=0,487) while correlations between self‐assessed riding skills and actual riding skills were low (r=0,048). We conclude that trail difficulty rating systems should not be developed by highly skilled riders solely. Furthermore, besides different grades or symbols, difficulty rating system should provide ad-ditional information about the difficulty of a trail to help visitors to match their actual skill level with the trail difficulty.
OrtKaprun, ÖsterreichAuf Karte anzeigen


  • trail difficulty rating, perception, mountainbike, mountain biking, skill level, mountainbike experience